Friday, September 18, 2009

Football picks week 2

I'm 13-3 straight up now, and 8-8 against the spread. I would still not recommend taking my advice. Here it is anyway!

Houston at Tennessee (favoured by 7): I like the Titans. They looked pretty good against a dominant Steelers team in Week One, and they have an extra three days to prepare for Houston. But I think the Texans need this win more - they faltered in the opener, and their heart is being questioned. I still think the Titans are better, and at home they shouldn't lose this game. But if this is to be Houston's year, they need to pick it up soon. Titans to win, Texans to cover. Titans, 20-17. Verdict (Texans, 34-31): Wrong. Well, the Texans covered. This may well be Houston's year. The Titans, despite being 0-2, are still a very good football team. But they are nowhere near the team they appeared to be last season.

Oakland at Kansas City (no line): The Raiders looked way better than I thought they would against San Diego - after all, this is a team that was learning football basics on the last week of training camp. Like, how to run, and not fall down. Dysfunctional though they may be, the Raiders are somehow decent. And I think they are far better than KC, even on the road. Raiders, 24-18. Verdict (Raiders, 13-10): Well, maybe not far better. But the Raiders, though dysfuntcion reigns supreme in that clubhouse, are a pretty tough football team with heart. They could win a few close games this year, and they must continue to beat terrible teams like the Chiefs. Good first step.

New England at New York Jets (no line): I love what the Jets are doing. It's week 2, and they're calling out the Team To Beat, the Patriots, before their game. But the Pats are not yet ripe for a calling-out. It may have taken them 55 minutes, but was there any doubt Brady would get it done in the last two against the Bills? Jets are better than the Bills, and they will keep it very close. Patriots, 28-27. Verdict (Jets, 16-9): When the game had 2:00 to go, I had no doubt in my mind that Tom Brady would march the Patriots down the field to score the tying TD, and that the Patriots would win in overtime. The fact that he didn't, and he looked a little off all game (like he did against the Bills) is either a testament to the fact that the Pats are way past their prime, or that the Jets have a much better D than previously thought. I am betting more on the former than I am on the latter. Gotta like that Sanchez, though.

Cincinnati at Green Bay (9): The Packers beat a very good Bears team last week, thanks to Cutler's 41 interceptions. Carson Palmer will not hand this game to Green Bay in that way. He has an awful defense to do that for him. Also, the Bengals appear to be utterly snakebitten, if that Denver game is any indication. They'll keep it closer than 9 points, but they will lose. Packers, 27-20. Verdict (Bengals, 31-24): Wrong. Well, the Bengals did indeed cover. So I got that going for me...I now have trouble pegging either of these teams. The Bengals, who took three and three-quarters quarters to put up a measly 7 points against that terrible Broncos defense, managed to score 31 on a pretty decent Packers defense. Looks like it might take the Pack a little while longer to adjust to the 3-4.

Arizona at Jacksonville (3): This might actually be the most intriguing matchup of the week. The Jags looked pretty solid as they took the Colts to the limit last week, and the Cards looked pretty weak as they were surprised by the Niners. However, when it comes down to it, I feel the NFC is substantially better than the AFC this year when it comes to teams in the middle of the pack. Jacksonville is favoured at home, but I think the Cards will win outright. Arizona, 24-21. Verdict (Cardinals, 31-17): Right, and right And it wasn't even close to a three-point margin. The Jaguars are simply not that good. And for the middle of the road games this season, I am looking at picking the NFC just about every time.

New Orleans at Philadelphia (no line): This one has no line because of Donovan McNabb. Out thanks to that dive on a meaningless 5th TD effort last week. With either of the backup QBs, (Jeff Garcia signed to what amounts to a two-game contract, with both McNabb and Michael Vick back soon) Philly will be in tough. Not that Brees is going to throw six TDs against this defense. The Eagles are not the Lions. Saints, 35-33. Verdict (Saints, 48-22): No, the Eagles are not the Lions. But the Saints remain the Saints. If Drew Brees can put up 300 yards and 3 TDs against a defense like the Eagles, and do it consistently, this will be his MVP season. By the way - not that it really matters, but it's kinda neat. Brees is on pace to throw for 72 TDs this season right now. I would take the under on that, if offered odds. The Saints D still looks porous, the Eagles put up huge yardage numbers in this one. But they need to maintain possession of the ball.

Minnesota (9.5) at Detroit: The Vikings are going to be the best team in this division (unless Green Bay really surprises), and the Lions will be the worst (unless Chicago falls completely apart without Urlacher). Adrian Peterson will have another massive game, Favre will throw at least three TDs, and the Lions will once again be embarassed. Vikings, 35-17. Verdict (27-13): Yeah. The Vikings appear to be slow starters so far this season, but once they get going, there is no stopping them. Or Adrian Peterson, who had a very easy 92 yards and a TD when it mattered most.

St. Louis at Washington (10): The Rams will be in contention for Worst Team In Football honours this season. And the Skins are either over-rated or under-rated because of the high level of competition in their division. I am betting on under-rated. Skins, 24-10. Verdict (Skins, 9-7): Well, I certainly wouldn't have expected the game to be this low-scoring. But I could have predicted it would be this bad. I think I might have been better off betting on the Skins being over-rated.

Carolina at Atlanta (6): I like the Falcons in this game. I think they made a big leap in Game One, cementing the idea that they can once again be a contender. And the Panthers (and Delhomme) looked simply awful against the Eagles. But the Falcons D is not the Eagles D. And the Falcons offense is not the Eagles offence. Same goes for Carolina and Miami. Falcons to win, but Carolina to cover. Falcons, 21-17. Verdict (Falcons, 28-20): Nope, Atlanta covered. The Panthers might have the biggest fall of any team in the NFL this season unless they right the ship, and soon. Atlanta could repeat last year's success, which would surprise me greatly. Or, at least, it would have two games ago.

Seattle at San Francisco (1.5): The fact that the spread is so small indicates that odds-makers believe that Seattle is a little better than the Niners. They aren't. Not yet, anyway. Both these teams are great dark horse picks this season, and they could both win their division. I will take the Niners simply because they are at home, and they are a little better than the Seahawks. Niners, 24-21. Verdict (Niners, 23-10): Wow. I rescind those earlier statements. The Niners are much better than the Seahawks. The Niners are 2-0, and leading their division. They could actually win that division this year. Repeat. The Niners could actually win their division. Don't ignore this team this season.

Tampa Bay at Buffalo (no line): The Bills lost a hearbreaker. How they respond will determine the outcome of this one, and they have a short week in which to do it. The Bucaneers are a bad team, and they will take only what another team gives. Look for Buffalo not to give them much, and Terrell Owens to have a big game. Bills 33-25. Verdict (Bills, 33-20): Pretty darn close. Who would have thought Tampa could explode for those extra five points? The Bucs are awful, truly awful. Buffalo is good, but they are in that tough division with the Patriots and the 2-0 Jets. They won't make the playoffs, but they will be entertaining. Owens didn't have the big game I thought he would, but 52 yards on 3 catches and a TD isn't bad.

Pittsburgh (3) at Chicago: Both teams are without their heavy hitters on defense. Which will hurt more? The loss of Polamalu or Urlacher? In the long run it will be Urlacher, who is gone for the season. And in the short term too. Jay Cutler threw a ton of interceptions against an average Green Bay defense still feeling their way around the 3-4. Against the Steelers defense? Please. Steelers, 27-13. Verdict (Bears, 17-14): Colour me stunned. The Bears have an awful lot of heart, and they showed it in this one. I think the Steelers miss Polamalu more than I anticipated. And the Bears are covering for the loss of Urlacher better than I expected. Jay Cutler appears to be settling down, having what can be considered a very good game against this defense. Look out, NFC!

Cleveland at Denver (3): Denver clearly has the easiest opening two weeks on the entire schedule. And the miracle at Cincy notwithstanding, I still believe they will be the worst team in the NFL when it's all said and done this year. The Browns aren't much better. But they are better. Browns, 14-9. Verdict (Broncos, 27-6): Seriously? The Broncos are 2-0? In what world does that make sense? And in what world do they blow out the Browns? OK. I picked Denver to be the worst team in the NFL this season. I will change my opinion now. I now believe they will be the worst road team in the NFL this season. And they will be halfway decent at home. And they will finish 5-11. Cool?

Baltimore at San Diego (no line): The Ravens look fantastic. And Flacco, even though he doesn't need to do a lot, seems more and more comfortable and capable. The San Diego offense is certainly one of the best that Baltimore D will face this year, but they are in a bit of turmoil with Sproles and Tomlinson both wanting the ball. In San Diego, it will be no cakewalk, but I think Baltimore will prevail. Ravens, 17-14. Verdict (Ravens, 31-26): Pretty darn close. But who would have thought these two teams could put up these numbers against each other? Not me...I think Merriman is still struggling, and the Chargers need him to be much, much better if they want to contend for a Super Bowl. What a game though! And that Ray Lewis hit on the final play? Magnificent.

New York Giants at Dallas (2.5): I don't think you can read anything into the Week One Dallas win against a subpar opponent. I think the Giants win was more impressive against better competition. And I think the Cowboys are really not in the same league, team-wise, as the Giants this season. Or last. Or next. Giants, 24-17. Verdict (Giants, 33-31): Well, it was closer than I thought it would be. But the Giants are a better team. They have more heart. Eli Manning is better than Tony Romo. And Dallas will have a really tough year in this division if they can't hold off New York in their first ever game in that new stadium.

Indianapolis (3) at Miami: I still think the Dolphins have a few big games in them this year, but against Peyton Manning...on Monday night...this isn't one of them. The Colts just squeaked by against the Jaguars last week, while the Fish were pounded by Atlanta. I think the Colts will make this a decisive win on Monday. Colts, 33-18. Verdict (Colts, 27-23): Well, the Colts won, and they covered (barely), but this was not the decisive victory I expected. And I hate blaming one guy for a loss, but Ted Ginn could have made one of those big catches that he so consistently dropped and this would have been an altogether different outcome. I do, indeed, buy into the wildcat offense, and into Miami's chances this season. They seemed to move the ball at will. But then, the Colts can score in the blink of an eye. And they did.

This week, I'm 11-5 overall, 11-5 against the spread. That makes me 24-8 overall, and 19-13 ATS so far. Decent, I guess.

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